Tiger Woods score today: 69 at Honda Classic marks first sub-70 round since 2015
Big Cat was feeling it for most of the day at PGA National on Saturday
Tiger Woods backed up his 70-71 start at the Honda Classic with a 1-under 69 on Saturday to get back to even par on the week. It's the first round Woods has shot in the 60s this year, and it also had a chance to be much better than that. Woods didn't make his first bogey until the 15th hole, and he had several good looks at lengthy birdies. He only converted on three, though, at holes Nos. 8, 13 and 18.
The Bear Trap (Nos. 15-17) ate his lunch once again and kept something strong from being something special. Still, Woods will be inside the top 15 heading into Sunday, which is a massive win for him just three tournaments into his 2018 comeback.
Here are five thoughts on Tiger's thrilling 69 in Round 3.
1. Proximity to hole impressed: Through 14 holes, Woods was averaging just under 19 feet to the pin on his approach shots. 19 feet! That left him No. 1 in the field in that category at that time, although he faded a bit coming in (especially on the par 3s at No. 15 and No. 17). One of Woods' issues last week at the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club was distance control, which he noted. That was definitely not an issue in the third round on Saturday.
2. Swing speed to match ball speed: Tiger hit 184 MPH on the ball speed chart during Friday's second round. He one-upped that on Saturday by reaching over 128 MPH with his club head speed. Here's how astonishing that is.
This tells me a few things. The first is that the back is fine or beyond fine. The second is that Woods has figured out a swing that can generate as much or more speed than anybody else in the world. At the age of 42. After having his back fused together. This is one of the reasons he won't put the driver down -- and probably shouldn't -- because he knows he's as long as the longest guys off the tee. That's remarkable and not something I thought I'd be saying about Tiger at this stage of his career, fusion surgery or not.
3. Tiger confident with putter but nothing dropping: Woods is making me cringe with how hard he's hitting some of his four and five-footers. I mean he is jamming them into the back of the cup. That's a great sign because it means he's confident with the flat stick. However, Woods only made around 70 feet of putts on Saturday and 17 of those were on a par putt on the 12th hole to keep the momentum alive. He had so many good runs at holes that narrowly missed dropping. They'll fall eventually, but if you're having a problem at the end of February, there are certainly much worse ones to have. Woods said the 69 was the highest score he could have shot on Saturday.
4. PGA National was much easier: I thought Woods lost out on his chance to win the golf tournament on the front nine on Saturday. He had several birdie putts under 20 feet (see above) and just didn't take advantage. The inevitable fade came late, and now Woods will need a miracle to win this tournament on Sunday afternoon given that he'll be six or seven down as the leaders finish up with 18 holes left in Round 4.
5. How loose is Big Cat? I don't want to overplay this point, but Woods has seemed more jovial, more joyful and generally more likable since he returned from injury. I don't know if that's because he's mellowed with age or because he realized how much golf really means to him, but it has certainly been interesting. I also don't know if it precludes him from being the dominant force he once was. The only thing I do know is that it's enjoyable to watch unfold and a hell of a lot more fun to cover.
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